‘Sea Slaves’: The Human Misery That Feeds Pets and Livestock

SONGKHLA, Thailand — Lang Long’s ordeal began in the back of a truck. After watching his younger siblings go hungry because their family’s rice patch in Cambodia could not provide for everyone, he accepted a trafficker’s offer to travel across the Thai border for a construction job.

It was his chance to start over. But when he arrived, Mr. Long was kept for days by armed men in a room near the port at Samut Prakan, more than a dozen miles southeast of Bangkok. He was then herded with six other migrants up a gangway onto a shoddy wooden ship. It was the start of three brutal years in captivity at sea.

“I cried,” said Mr. Long, 30, recounting how he was resold twice between fishing boats. After repeated escape attempts, one captain shackled him by the neck whenever other boats neared.

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Cambodian migrants hauled in the nets on a fishing boat in the South China Sea. A labor shortage in the Thai fishing industry is primarily filled by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar. ADAM DEAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Cambodian migrants hauled in the nets on a fishing boat in the South China Sea. A labor shortage in the Thai fishing industry is primarily filled by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar.
ADAM DEAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Alistair Douglas